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My New Year’s (Parenting) Resolution

Last night I forgot to make dinner.

I’d spent the morning coaxing a fever from my 5 year old and the afternoon on Class Mom duty at a 4th grade holiday party. With the events of the day, somehow the small matter of feeding my family slipped my mind.

It’s no wonder; I’ve been distracted all week, unable to shake the trauma that unfolded in Newtown but that has touched every town in every state in this country.

As I watched the coverage following last week’s tragic events in Connecticut, I couldn’t help seeing the faces of my children in the images on my TV screen. I saw myself in their grieving parents, my son’s school in the photos of Sandy Hook Elementary.

Last night while our children slept, my husband and I watched as one victim’s father spoke of the son he lost.

We’d go to the deli every morning for his bagel.

He liked running errands with me.

There’s a diner where he liked to go for his lunch.

As he described his beautiful first grader, I realized that he didn’t focus on the extraordinary— a trip to Disney World that he might have saved for for months, perhaps— but instead he spoke of the ordinary. What he missed were the the little things, the moments, the mundane.

When it comes to parenting, the extraordinary occurs in the every day: the silly songs from the backseat. The weight of her head on your shoulder. How, when a 5 year old sleeps, you can see both the baby he was and the man he’ll be.

I read a powerful quote today from one of my favorite writers, Brené Brown. “We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary,” she wrote. “Scarcity culture may keep us afraid of living small, ordinary lives but when you talk to people who have survived great losses it is clear that the most profound joy we experience is in those small moments that are so easy to overlook.”

She’s right. How many times have I shooed my children away from my desk while I worked? How many requests have I refused in the name of productivity? How many small moments of joy have I missed?

We’ve all heard that a dying man will never say he wishes he would’ve spent more time at the office. I’ve been guilty of living life as though it’s a race each night to bedtime, and no matter how fast I run through my days, I’ll always lose if I don’t focus on the real prize: my family.

I think of the father on my tv screen, grief and shock so evident in his eyes. I think of the little boy who, like my own son, loved bagels and spending time with his dad.

I think of myself and my frantic need to chase the extraordinary, when it’s already happening right under my nose.

That’s why my New Year’s parenting resolution is this: to slow down. Relax. Appreciate the small, everyday moments that so easily slip through the cracks in my memory. They’re moments I can’t ever get back.

What’s your parenting goal for 2013? Share it in the comments!

More by Mary Lauren

10 Things You Can Do for Families Who are Hurting

Post-Divorce Parenting: Putting Kids First during the Holiday Season

Typical or Troublesome: Parenting Experts Weigh in on Common Behavioral Issues

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